Yara Shahidi and Natalie Portman Open Up About Women-Oriented Activism

As part of a new initiative with Dior for International Women’s Day, the actresses talk overcoming obstacles in their own lives and careers.

by W Staff

“There isn’t one grand identity of what it means to be a woman, but it takes shape differently for each and every individual,” Yara Shahidi says. “And as I’ve grown up, I feel like my commitment to the work has only grown as I’ve personally learned more about what that means.”

The Grown-ish star, clad in a black-and-white striped jumper and seated against a muted dark background, is just one of a handful of women commissioned by Dior in celebration of International Women’s Day to speak about the work they’re doing to dismantle systems of oppression—whether that’s Portman working with the WE Foundation, or Shahidi advocating for herself and others working in the industry. The two actresses are joined by Dilone, South Korean figure skater Yuna Kim, architect India Mahdavi, the Moroccan writer Leila Slimani, and actress Li Bingbing for a series of short videos in which they discuss what it’s like as a working woman in each of their respective fields.

Many of these conversations center inclusivity and a more intersectional approach to feminism. For Victoria’s Secret model Dilone, speaking up for those who might not be in such an advantageous position as she is has become a central aspect of the work she does. “It’s important to understand the privilege that I have, in the skin tone that I have,” she says. “If I can speak out, I want to still bring attention to the fact that, sure, I might not get treated as well as somebody who is white, but there is still somebody who is getting treated even worse than me and that is somebody who is Black.”

Shahidi agrees. “As soon as we expand who we advocate for to be inclusive of those we don’t know, we then begin the work of actively dismantling those systems,” she says. “That excites me and I think that is the work that so many of us are committed to doing.”